Next decade of technology-led transformation of Governance by Venkat Patnaik, Expert: E-governance Professional

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Venkat Patnaik

Venkat PatnaikThe digital success of India and China is primarily due to the shift of focus from the traditional to the broader Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) impact on our society.

Technology is necessary but not the self-sufficient pre-condition for development. Other elements such as regulatory framework, financial support, available human resources and other socio-cultural conditions play an important and contributory role as well.

Presently, the country is gaining pace in adopting the initiation taken by the Government to transform India into a digitally empowered society and a knowledge economy. The next decade of technology is finding its way in our daily life, meaning that effective computing will become less dependent on the expertise and more a function of desire.

We have been using technologies that are digital but going forward, everything will move towards the end-user whose expectations are “always on”, always connected with the world. With this, we will be moving in the easy life mode. So the digital transformation success comes down to the citizens.

Digital India will see a knowledge-based transformation and will deliver good governance to citizens by coordinated engagement with all the stakeholders. Every possible service will be delivered electronically and in real time to the citizens. Infrastructure as a utility for every citizen, governance and services on demand through the cloud, and digital empowerment of citizens will become the success story and help move into the annual maintenance orbit.

In a shift from governance to good governance, technology plays a pivotal role in taking Digital India to the next level, along with the social and business transformation, in the coming decade. This will be the driving force to match with the developed nations.

Good governance is the need of the hour for our country. It is used by governments across the world to promote the reforms of states by introducing more transparency, reducing corruption, and increasing the efficiency of administration.

With the present thrust on these areas of governance, future will see the shift of power from the government as a buyer to the government being an enabler. The short-cut being used in governance for projecting success may look appealing in the beginning but will prove disastrous in the end. So the long term goal setting for governance is mandatory.

The internet governance,for example, evolved long back but the change is an ongoing and a never-ending activity. So, in the economic terms, the internet governance will reduce the cost of the transaction. The communication infrastructure will be in the fast implementation lane in order to reduce the demand and supply gap.

The health sector will reach out and fulfill the last mile requirement. For example, the telemedicine initiative today, with techno-governance will help reach faster to the needy. Similarly, education through the use of ICT like e-shiksa, digital classroom etc is shaping up to add speed to make the country more knowledgeable and informed.

Change management and last mile employability have always been a line item in the wish list of the Government. A good governance structure making a combination of business with an element of corporate social responsibility (CSR) will invite private participation and a combined effort by the public – private partnership.

This can also help make a blue print for the timely roll out. This is a key component of the digital India growth story.

India’s future for the next decade will see a major change in terms of national development. One strongly believes that this big a national development requires a constant enhancement in the Governance structure.

Today, social changes are happening worldwide including India. These changes include better education, technology innovation, improved apps, affordable communication cost, easy access to information and tapping international markets etc. Of course, ICT is central to all these changes.

Digital India is a transformation of governance through change management. Any business process change, policy change or a process change requires a good techno-governance blue print. India’s growth story will include development in technology, information access, education reach, skill development, last mile employability, health benefits for all, availability of intellectual property on demand, service sector domination etc.

Therefore, the ‘will to change’ is no more debatable, it has now become ‘mandatory to change’. The government needs to showcase its intent to promote economic growth using ICT.

The Digital India plan which includes broadband highways, universal access to mobile connectivity, public internet access, e-Governance, e-Kranti, global information, electronics manufacturing, IT training for jobs and harvest programmes will be the cornerstone of any ICT development policy.

The use of technology for day-to-day activities has the potential to transform India. If the three vision areas for Digital India programme – infrastructure as a utility for every citizen, governance and services on demand driving government efficiency and digital empowerment of citizens are an indication, this is a plan that can revolutionise the lives of citizens.

Information and services could be accessed without delays – and this would empower the citizens and propel the economy forward.

The ‘Make in India’ drive will help create employment opportunities. Manufacturing and its associated business will hugely benefit from this. One important transformation using ICT will be a shift from cash to the cashless transaction. The Aadhar Card creation, implementation and usage, which is in line with the USA’s social security number will become the key for many citizen-centric programmes announced by the government. One nation, one tax (GST) implementation will further strengthen and institutionalise the “ease of doing business” in the country.

The decision to make banks more user-friendly will attract people to join the banking system. This will help in promoting a cashless economy. The feature and smart phones will become necessary items in our lives which were considered a luxury till yesterday. The ease of doing business will help in cutting down the bureaucratic procedures and will provide its citizens with an easy access to information.

A robust and matured National e-Governance Plan (NeGP) coupled with technology will take us into the next decade without.The government process re-engineered and integrated with all present stand-alone services will help us migrate into the next decade easily.

The next-gen telecom will address many critical operations with its availability, accessibility, reach and speed. Thus, helping transform the lives of citizens.

As we are experiencing the migration of people from rural to urban, the need for urban development has become a necessity. This has triggered the requirement of safe and smart cities to lead a safe and comfortable life. These are the demands of a technology-led transformation.

The technology basket will have mobile devices, connectivity, the Internet, cloud computing, Internet of things, sensors and devices for enhancing the financial services, education, skill development, health care services, uninterrupted power, internet connectivity, infrastructure setup for housing, transportation, banking and telecom.

Today, social media is playing a major role in transformation by connecting people through the affordable and accessible platforms. The new policies designed for media ensures information reaching out to the common people in rural and semi-urban areas.

The exchange of information through social platforms has become free for all. Going forward, a legal framework with well-defined regulatory guidelines has to be put in place for a better governance.

With the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the two-way communication between the government and citizens like feedback through social media, complaint box and help desk for women, citizen participation in the decision and policy making has helped in the transformation of governance. The biggest example being the common services centres (CSC), where all kinds of services are being provided at citizens’ doorstep.

The reach of CSCs across the country has really transformed the lives of people in rural India.Digital transformation is a convergent set of technologies and a single delivery window for services using technology, social media, cloud computing, analytics and big data can empower government by taking things to the next level.

THE INTERNET GOVERNANCE: The digital divide needs to narrow down, be it within countries and between countries, between rural and urban population, between the old and young or between the men and women as the digital divides is not an independent phenomenon. It needs to be understood and addressed in the context of broader category like socioeconomic inequalities in education, health care, capital, shelter, employment, clean water and food.

The internet will continue to open new possibilities for education like “e-learning”, “online learning”, “ distance education”. The aim is to use the internet as a medium for delivery of courses. The quality assurance needs to be managed properly to ensure the quality of materials and didactics. The legal vacuum in the field of many policies when going “Digital” needs to be re-visited periodically to have the Government and Industry on the same page of interpretation.

A strong workable legal framework will fill the vacuum. Similarly, as we go digital, a Governance framework needs to be put in place to promote the multi-lingual usage. The multilingualism and cultural diversity require technical standards that facilitate the use of local language. The telecommunication policies and regulations, the Internet infrastructure and its security (encryption technology, address spam related issues), the Financial support and the Human resources availability and fitment will play a big role in the transformational journey.

The never ending discussion on digital India transformation will continue in the next decade too. The digital ecosystem has started its journey and by the end of the decade and transformation will be by the people, of the people and for the people.

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